After failing to earn an NHL contract, Artem Anisimov has left for the KHL. The 33-year-old center was in training camp with the Colorado Avalanche, but after being released earlier this month has now signed a one-year deal with HC Lokomotiv, his old team.
It’s been years since Anisimov played in Russia, and even longer since he spent a whole season with Lokomotiv. Selected in the second round in 2006, it was clear that Anisimov’s heart was set on coming to North America and making a name for himself in the NHL. By the 2007-08 season he was grinding in the minor leagues with the Hartford Wolf Pack, a team he would spend two full years with before making the jump to the NHL.
Once he made it, the big center never looked back. Anisimov played in 771 NHL games over 12 seasons, only appearing back across the pond during the 2012-13 lockout. As soon as the NHL resumed, Anisimov was back playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets, providing his consistent two-way play.
Never a star, Anisimov was still a valuable piece for the Rangers, Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks for many years. Even in 2019-20 with the Ottawa Senators, he recorded 15 goals in 49 games, though it was clear by then his NHL career was coming to an end. Still just 33, he should be able to play for several more years overseas, but it seems unlikely that he’ll be an impact player on this side of the ocean ever again.